Upregulated ATM gene expression and activated DNA crosslink-induced damage response checkpoint in fanconi anemia: Implications for carcinogenesis

Kazuhiko Yamamoto, Abdallah Nihrane, Jason Aglipay, Juan Sironi, Steven Arkin, Jeffrey M. Lipton, Toru Ouchi, Johnson M. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Fanconi anemia (FA) predisposes to hematopoietic failure, birth defects, leukemia, and squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC) and cervix. The FA/BRCA pathway includes 8 members of a core complex and 5 downstream gene products closely linked with BRCA1 or BRCA2. Precancerous lesions are believed to trigger the DNA damage response (DDR), and we focused on the DDR in FA and its putative role as a checkpoint barrier to cancer. In primary fibroblasts with mutations in the core complex FANCA protein, we discovered that basal expression and phosphorylation of ATM (ataxia telangiectasia mutated) and p53 induced by irradiation (IR) or mitomycin C (MMC) were upregulated. This heightened response appeared to be due to increased basal levels of ATM in cultured FANCA-mutant cells, highlighting the new observation that ATM can be regulated at the transcriptional level in addition to its well-established activation by autophosphorylation. Functional analysis of this response using γ-H2AX foci as markers of DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs) demonstrated abnormal persistence of only MMC- and not IR-induced foci. Thus, we describe a processing defect that leads to general DDR upregulation but specific persistence of DNA crosslinker-induced damage response foci. Underscoring the significance of these findings, we found resistance to DNA crosslinker-induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in a TP53-mutant, patient-derived HNSCC cell line, whereas a lymphoblastoid cell line derived from this same individual was not mutated at TP53 and retained DNA crosslinker sensitivity. Our results suggest that cancer in FA may arise from selection for cells that escape from a chronically activated DDR checkpoint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-174
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Medicine
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Upregulated ATM gene expression and activated DNA crosslink-induced damage response checkpoint in fanconi anemia: Implications for carcinogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this